"...On Friday, May 2, the Project Connect team presented its “Locally Preferred Alternative” recommendation for urban rail to Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s Central Corridor Advisory Group. It runs from Highland on the north to Riverside/Grove on the south, features a new bridge over Lady Bird Lake, and possibly a tunnel at Hancock..."
"...The bond package, based on the SMP, would (over its term) cost an estimated $1 billion, with $400 million for road improvements and $600 million for urban rail. The $600 million would cover a little less than half of Project Connect's $1.38 billion Central Corridor Urban Rail project (aka the "Locally Preferred Alternative")..."
"...The recommendations are now scheduled for a briefing to City Council this Thursday, Dec. 12, along with a proposed resolution that would endorse the initial plan and also continue to "analyze the East Riverside and Highland Sub-Corridors or alternative sub-corridors as the Central Corridor priority, and directing the City Manager to present a possible Locally Preferred Alternative as part of Phase 2 of the Project effort for Council consideration."..."
"...Scott Gross, urban rail program manager for the city's Transportation Department, said the team is confident in its judgment of the most effective option. "We stand by our recommendation for the entire Locally Preferred Alternative, which has a year-of-expenditure [adjusted for inflation] price tag of $1.38 billion..."
"...On Friday, May 2, the Project Connect team presented its Locally Preferred Alternative recommendation for urban rail to Mayor Lee Leffingwell's Central Corridor Advisory Group (CCAG). It would run from Highland on the north to Riverside/Grove on the south, features a new bridge over Lady Bird Lake, and possibly a tunnel at Hancock..."
"...It was the first large community meeting since Cap Metro's consultants and a citizens steering committee concluded this spring that streetcars were the best option for such a circulator, following a year-and-a-half-long alternatives analysis process, according to Lucy Galbraith, Cap Metro's Transit Oriented Development manager. From here, she said, the transit agency's board must vote to approve streetcars as the so-called "locally preferred alternative" and also come to a general agreement on a route..."
"...It's second-season time for Capital Metro and a whole new ball game in the light-rail league. With last week's presentation of the agency's staff-recommended transit alternative -- the "blueprint," in their words, for what Austinites will be asked to okay next year at the ballot box -- the formerly cellar-dwelling Cap Met has kicked off its do-or-die drive to be more than a bus company..."
"...Cap Met's absence from the FTA budget isn't really a surprise. Last year, after its AIM (Austin Area in Motion) outreach process and another round of technical studies from its consultants, Cap Met decided to change its "locally preferred alternative" starter line from the Red Line -- from East Austin to Leander along the rail right of way already owned by Capital Metro -- to the "Red/Green" alternative, running from McNeil Road through the central city to Fourth and Colorado..."
"..."Our groups strongly support light rail," read the release, "but Project Connect's East Riverside to Highland Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) would result in a broken system, an ineffective transportation investment for our city and region, and a politically non-viable ballot measure." The release said the groups have "formally endorsed a Guadalupe North Lamar Corridor urban rail alignment," and accused the Project Connect planners of having ignored public input in favor of "narrow development interests." The group said it was submitting a petition signed by more than 1,000 residents, along with supporting materials, to City Council and the boards of Capital Metro and Lone Star Rail...."
"...A few days later (June 5), the Central Austin Community Development Corporation, a community organizing nonprofit, issued a press release announcing a “powerful grassroots coalition” to oppose the Project Connect plan, arguing instead for the Guadalupe-North Lamar corridor. Issued by CDC Director Scott Morris, the release was co-signed by representatives of the Crestview, Highland, Hyde Park, and Northfield neighborhood associations, and UT-Austin student government, collectively self-described as “serving over 100,000 Austinites.” The release argues against Project Connect’s current plan: “Our groups strongly support light rail, but Project Connect's East Riverside to Highland Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) would result in a broken system, an ineffective transportation investment for our city and region, and a politically non-viable ballot measure.” (Morris is also treasurer of “Our Rail,” a PAC organized to support only a Guadalupe-Lamar alignment and to oppose any Project Connect plan for the Highland corridor.)..."
"...› On May 2, the Project Connect Study Team presented its "locally preferred alternative" initial urban rail route to the Central Corridor Advisory Group. And surprise: It's the route everyone knew would be selected all along – from Grove Blvd./Riverside on the south, across a bridge to be built over Lady Bird Lake, and north to Highland Mall – at an estimated price tag of $1.38 billion..."
"...On Saturday, April 12, at Midway Field House on East Riverside, the Project Connect Central Corridor study team hosted the last public workshop before they present the "Locally Preferred Alternative" to the Central Corridor Advisory Group on May 2. The workshop/open house provided more information about Austin's potential high-capacity transit service, modes, and routes...."
"...For starters, Austin voters must give Cap Metro the authority to proceed. (While not formally adopted by Cap Metro's board of directors as the "locally preferred alternative" for circulator transit, a streetcar system has been the technology pursued by staff since 2004 and is widely supported as the best choice..."
"...8 board meeting was more muted than you might expect. It helped that Cap Metro was only asking for permission to submit a request for federal funding for its "locally preferred alternative," or LPA -- a starter line from McNeil Road south to downtown, with as-yet-undefined extensions to the south and east -- and not seeking carte blanche to build the system..."
"...About five hours later, the Cap Met board voted 6-0 to send forward a "locally preferred alternative" alignment for the first phase of the rail system -- a segment running from McNeil Road in the northwest down the "Red/Green" alignment to downtown (described repeatedly as "Phase 1A"). Yes, this is farther than light rail has ever gotten before..."
"..."The second part of my nightmare," Winstead says, "is that I am unable to convince the people, particularly in East Austin, of some of the very important facts involved in the SH130 story." The facts in question have to do with the lingering question of alignment: Will TxDOT's technically preferred alternative, also called the western alignment (see map), result in increased traffic on East Austin arterials like Martin Luther King Blvd. and East Seventh, and can TTA be counted on to limit the number of interchanges in order to discourage people from cutting through the Eastside, both to and from downtown? Fearing an increase in noise, pollution, and the general disruption of their communities, a united front of East Austin neighborhood groups have endorsed an eastern alignment, which takes the highway around Walter E..."
"...And time is of the essence in introducing these hybrids into the mainstream, as oil prices rise and observers worry about the arrival of "peak oil" the dangerous point at which increasing fossil fuel consumption surpasses declining global production. "You've got this situation where you're starting to run out of cheap oil, gas prices are getting higher and higher, and the hydrogen economy" the Bush administration's preferred alternative energy strategy "is farther off than we thought," said Roger Duncan, Austin Energy's deputy general manager..."
"...It had a remarkable 1966 to 1977 run, and it put Austin on the nation's countercultural map through a then novel and offbeat combination of psychedelic art and political and cultural news. The sixth paper to join the fledgling Underground Press Syndicate, a national network of alternative publications that both made national connections and allowed members to reprint content from one another's newspapers and magazines for free, The Rag was at the forefront of the Vietnam era underground press movement...."
"..."The City wants to facilitate this area to a mixed-use area, so people can live, work and play all in one area. This is an alternative to the typical sprawl pattern, to allow us to keep population in the city instead of on the fringes..."